Fragrance.

I LOVE perfume. Anyone who knows me, knows about my serious obsession with those little bottles of gorgeousness. The great thing about perfume is that although certain scents are unmistakeable, and undeniably familiar, each one smells slightly different depending on who is wearing it.

I want to run through some (only some) of my favourites with you. These are not in order of preference

Black Opium (Yves Saint Laurent) –This delicious scent smells sexy, dark and sensual. It’s the perfect date-night perfume, and is ideal for evenings in general. I wouldn’t personally go for this during the day as its quite a deep, strong scent, but it makes me feel beautiful and confident.

Mon Jasmin Noir, L’eau Exquise (Bulgari) – This perfume is summer in a bottle. Light, citrus-floral notes that remind me of white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters. If there was ever a perfect summer holiday scent, then this is it.

Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune (Guerlain) – In keeping with the summer in a bottle theme, this scent brings a similar memory of the beach, sea breezes and palm trees, however it leans more towards the citrus elements than the floral. You would be at home in an Orange grove in Seville with this fragrance on. It smells gorgeous and a spritz or two of this on a bright day always lifts my heart.

Flowerbomb (Viktor & Rolf) – If I had to pick a signature scent, this is the one. Perfect for the day or night, it smells like you took a bath in some nostalgic baby bath from your childhood, and amped up the fragrance with some candy sweet fruit, kissed by sexy, spicy undertones. I wear this one so often the seatbelts in my car smell of it.

Coco Mademoiselle (Chanel) – Again, another perfect day to night scent and the one I always seem to reach for when I’m goin to a wedding because of it’s romantic nature. Its a sweet, subtly fruity fragrance that lingers behind you as you walk. I’m often asked what perfume I’m wearing when I’ve got this one on.

Lovely (Sarah Jessica Parker) – I love this for a day-wear perfume. When I’m going out for lunch or a shopping trip, this is what I reach for. It’s very easy to wear, not too strong, and it has light spicy notes that carry you through whatever day time activities you have planned.

Blonde Rose (Clean Reserve) – This fragrance in its simple packaging and understated, minimalist look isn’t something I would usually look for in a perfume. I like pretty, classic looking bottles full of pink or gold liquid, giving me that feeling of luxury, something really special. This is the total opposite, but it’s my winter go-to. What it lacks in design it more than makes up for in perfume. It’s strange to associate a scent with winter, but for me this is a jumper and boots kind of fragrance that I like to spritz on before heading out on a cold day. It’s a floral musk, not sweet at all, but reminiscent of flowers in the rain.

Sexy No.9 (Trish McEvoy) – This is another one for winter. The delicious blackberry and vanilla musk is perfect for cold rainy days. Although it has hints of fruit, the vanilla musk keeps it from being too sweet. Another one for those dark mornings.

Bombshell (Victorias Secret) – I happened upon this by accident. I had gone into a VS store to pick up a body lotion of theirs that I like (Love Spell), and came across a wall of perfumes. I spritzed some testers and fell instantly in love with this one. For me it’s day wear with a naughty edge, perfect for a day out with someone special. It’s floral and spicy but not overpowering.

Botanical Essence No. 20 (Liz Earle) – This is a scent like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Its smells clean, sexy, powerful and pretty all at the same time. The pink packaging is ideal for the scents of damask rose, pink pepper,  Indian jasmine, hibiscus, patchouli and sandalwood. The woody muskiness is perfect for day or night, winter or summer alike. Its a really versatile fragrance. Love it!

Mon Paris (Yves Saint Laurent) – Alongside Black Opium, this is another evening go-to. No dinner in a fancy restaurant, or a night at an evening reception is complete without this for me. On the sweet side, it might seem an odd choice for an evening, but the slight underlying notes of woodiness make it spicy enough for the evening, and a little too heady for day-wear. This is definitely one of my ultimate picks.

I hope this little review has given you some inspiration for the next fragrance you want to try.

Relationships are hard work.

Talk about stating the obvious, but even with such glaring, obvious truth, people still find it difficult to comprehend this, and expect their relationship to be a walk-in the park. An  expectation like that is bound to lead to disappointment.

I’m not claiming to be the authority on the subject, but I have been in a loving relationship with my husband for almost two decades, and all the mistakes we made, and the rough patches we have come through, is what has taught me the things I know now.

I like to keep things simple and easy to follow, so I’ve broken my advice and opinions down into small nuggets of accumulated knowledge and wisdom (haha). These are not in any order of importance, and each point holds it’s own merit, and try to bear in mind that these are my opinions, based on my personal experiences, I’m not telling anyone what to do.

  1. Friendship is a great foundation for a lasting and happy relationship. Having that underlying bond makes the inevitable bumps in the road easier to navigate, because you already have a certain level of insight into what your companion is thinking and feeling, and a good idea of how they might react in certain situations. A foundation of friendship also gives the relationship a more relaxed feel, there are no pretences to be upheld and you can be yourself freely.
  2. Honesty is the best policy- this is a difficult one, with many conflicting views on the matter, but in MY opinion honesty really is the best policy. No matter how bad the mistake, or indiscretion or what the situation or predicament is that you are in, honesty with your partner will alleviate a huge amount of the stress. Lies create a web of deceit that gets more and more entangled the more you tell them. Things get messy. We all make mistakes, if it’s your turn right now, next time it will be your partner. Some mistakes are small, and some are the kind that could wreck what you have with each other. The worst thing you can do is predict and assume how the other person will feel and react. Sit down and talk- honestly.
  3. Be the real you from the get-go. So many people try to be something they’re not at the start of a relationship. The obvious reason as to why this is unhelpful is because it’s difficult to sustain. Frankly it’s just hard work to try and be someone else all the time. Just be you. True love needs to be between two souls that have bared themselves completely to one-another. In order for that strong bond to build you really need to see each other. I’ve never got my head around relationships where couples don’t feel comfortable to share their true beliefs, opinions and ideas about each other, each others families and the world. Why would you need to hold those things back unless you feel your partner is only in love with this persona you’ve ‘created’? I pride myself on the fact that I hold nothing back when discussing matters with my husband -no matter the topic. Nothing is off-limits for us. Of course when you love someone you do try to make the effort to use words kindly so as not to cause pain or leave permanent scars, but you shouldn’t need to sugar coat the truth about your feelings.

In the long run, mutual respect, honesty and openness will shape your relationship. There are going to be difficult times, but they’re a lot easier to get through when each person knows exactly where they stand.

And I know I didn’t include this in my neatly laid out points, but that mutual respect is so important. When you respect one another you will not allow each other to tolerate disrespectful behaviour from others, or from yourselves.

Bye for now!

Foundation Reviews.

Finding the perfect shade of foundation seems to be an issue for so many women. Once you find one that fits there’s no going back, or so you would think. Then the weather changes, the cold weather makes your skin dry, the hot weather makes your skin oilier, and the sun makes you a shade or two darker. Two weeks into this new perfect make-up routine, you find the product is making you break out.

Lucky for you, I’ve tried and tested various different foundations over the last couple of years, and found some really great picks for you to try!

The following are in no particular order of preference, I love them all, for different reasons. I will add though, that when it comes to foundation, I personally tend to stay away from the budget brands, just because they’ve never felt great on my skin. I don’t think you necessarily need to spend a fortune to get a good result- but your do generally get what you pay for when it comes to skincare and make-up. Foundation is the base of your make-up look, and it’s going to help you look flawless, so spend that little bit extra

Iconic London – Pigment Foundation Stick £24.99 (8g) http://www.iconiclondoninc.com

This is my everyday go-to foundation. I love everything about it. The convenient stick means that it glides on easily. the creamy formulation is a dream to blend out, especially with the Iconic London oval foundation buffing brush. The coverage is great, I would say medium-full, and is totally buildable. It comes in 18 shades, ranging from fair to dark, which makes it a great product for base, contour and highlight I do find that it runs out quite quickly, but it’s definitely worth the money and the re-purchase.

Tarte – Amazonian Clay 12-hour Full Coverage Foundation £33 (50ml)

This is my favourite long-wear, full coverage foundation for use during the winter. It does exactly what it says on the label. It lasts all day, and the formulation is super-creamy. I find a little goes a long way, and it applies best with Tartes own Bamboo foundation buffer brush, although I’m sure any flat top buffing brush would work well. The product seems to work well on its own without a primer and doesn’t flake or dry, however I find it a little heavy on the skin for use during the summer months, and it isn’t a product I would take away on holiday with me. In winter though, it is my holy grail foundation. A little on the pricy side- it’s worth every penny, and comes in a great range of shades, so there is something for everyone.

Fenty Beauty – Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation £26 (32ml)

What I love about the whole Fenty range is it’s inclusive nature, impressive shade range and relative affordability for something that is marketed as a high-end product. The packaging is gorgeous and the product itself is a big hit with me. I would class it as a buildable medium coverage, and paired with a good primer it’s an easy to wear, long-lasting product that doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, but gives a flawless dewy finish that stays put. This is my summertime go-to for day-wear. Shop directly from the Fenty Beauty website, or Harvey Nichols (both online and in-store).

Last but by no-means least;

Charlotte Tilbury – Magic Foundation £32 (30ml)

I wasn’t immediately in love with this foundation, but it has grown on me. I find that I like it more since I started using a damp beauty blender to blend it out rather than a foundation brush- it gives a better finish. This is a medium to full coverage product and is very buildable. It feels nice and light on the skin and comes in 15 shades. This product has the least shade variety of all the ones I use (perhaps something the people at CT could work on). The foundation is lovely and is what I reach for if I’m going out for the evening, both in the winter and summer months.

These four products are my chosen favourites, after much trial and error. There are others I’m hoping to try in the not to distant future. There are products that I’ve tried and really haven’t liked- but they don’t get a mention here because it’s my HAPPY page!

I hope you’ll find something you like from the products I’ve featured, let me know, I would love to hear about it!

 

Encouragement.

Yesterday it was my daughter Leyas sports day. It was her first one in fact, as she had chicken pox this time last year. It was such a fun day, with lots of different races, parent participation in the form of a dressing up race, and a tug of war. Sadly, our team of mums didn’t win this -but it was good fun nonetheless.

One big difference I noted between sports day at my daughters school, and the sports days I remember growing up, was that the emphasis now was in the taking part, the teamwork and the enjoyment, rather than competition (although some parents did get a little over-zealous during their race!).

I noticed that this approach meant many less tears amongst the children, and lots of smiles all round. The key here was the encouragement and confidence building that the teachers had given the children during their practices and on the big day itself.

Each child is an individual and has different areas of strength. Some of the children were very fast, so they sprinted well, and some of the children had brilliant co-ordination, so the egg and spoon race was perfect for them. The flexible ones breezed through the spider race.

The important message I took away from today, that I hope I can continue to pass on to both my girls, is that its ok if you find some things more challenging than others. Try hard, have fun, and be proud of yourself for taking part in something and not letting the fear of failing hold you back.

Use words of encouragement for your little loved ones, and you will truly see them flourish!

Amsterdam.

On Friday, my husband took me to Amsterdam.

After the British Airways Flying with Confidence course at the beginning of last month, I wanted to fly again soon, to get another short practice flight in, before we take the girls on holiday.

Amsterdam seemed like a good choice, it’s a short flight, just 45 minutes from Heathrow to Amsterdam Schiphol.

We flew out on Friday evening, arriving in Amsterdam at about 8.30pm. We took a taxi to our hotel, Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South. When we booked, I don’t think we realised how far our hotel was from the city centre. On arrival at the hotel, they had kindly upgraded our room, and brought us a chilled bottle of Cava, which remained unopened. my husband doesn’t drink alcohol and I was recovering from a cold, so didn’t feel like drinking.

We decided to go straight into the city, and had a walk around, taking in all the Amsterdam has to offer- so mainly weed, lots of drunk tourists, plenty of sex shops, and of course the lovely ladies of the red light district.

We had some good pizza, and then headed back to our hotel for the night. I was really homesick and missing my girls, so was eager to get some sleep and welcome the next day.

Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza was lovely, there was a huge variety available, and they had a friendly chef making omelettes on request at the hot buffet-yummy!

After breakfast we checked out and headed back into the City. I have to say I preferred Amsterdam in the daytime, it was easier to admire the flowers adorning some of the canal bridges, and to appreciate the eclectic arquitecture which ranged from quaint to modern.

Dam Square was busy, the souvenir shops had some nice things, and I was able to get a few small gifts to bring back home. We walked around and explored, had some drinks at a nice bar in the square, and sampled some of the food on offer around the area. The Churros with Nutella, and the chips with curry ketchup were particularly good.

We went to the airport about an hour earlier than we needed to so we could relax in the British Airways lounge, and unwind a little before out flight.

Schiphol Airport is efficient, and has great shopping, but the staff-undesirable to say the least.

The flight home was quick and comfortable (Thank you BA).

I’m glad we went, Amsterdam is an experience to be had at least once, if not just to see how utterly Bizarre the city is. For me this was more just a confidence building flight. A practice for the real holiday.

I would love to hear about your experiences of Amsterdam!

 

Hypnobirthing.

I have always had a deep anxiety centred around anything remotely medical in nature. Doctors visits as a child were a nightmare- or should I say, I was a nightmare at the Doctors. I would cry all the way there, the entire time spent in the waiting room, and the get hysterical as soon as we walked into the consultation room. It became a running joke with our GP, and any travel vaccines, booster injections etc. had to be done after surgery closing hours, as a special late appointment to avoid me freaking out the other patients-yes it really was THAT bad!

Obviously, things improved slightly as I got older, but the general anxiety around being at surgeries and hospitals remained, with my needle phobia worsening over time.

When I found out I was pregnant, any possibility of being happy about the news was overshadowed by my fear of this impending medical scenario I would have to go though, after all it all looks very dramatic on TV. I mean, the thought of a natural labour was terrifying enough, but the chance that I might end up needing a C-section was worse. What about all the check ups that would come before that? The needles, the ultrasounds, the prodding and poking. Pregnancy care had me so worked up, I just couldn’t even begin to get excited.

I vaguely remembered reading an article online, in which a celebrity (who shall remain nameless), had talked about her calm ‘zen’ childbirth, with  no drugs. I began to do some more research into this and discovered she had been referring to Hypnobirthing. The more I read about Hypnobirthing, the more I liked the sound of it. It seemed like just what I needed to make my experience of having a baby less traumatic than I kept imagining it to be.

I found a local practitioner and contacted her. She came out to conduct the sessions with couples or individuals in their own home. My husband and I took the course as a couple. There were about five sessions, lasting a couple of hours each (so it took commitment), but the course covers everything that other ante-natal courses do, so there was no need to book anything else. The hypnobirthing technique is a combination of positive affirmations, visualisation, anchoring, meditation, self-hypnosis and relaxation.

For those of you thinking it sounds a bit ‘alternative’- believe me, I was the biggest skeptic and I approached this more out of desperation than an open mind. I am so glad, however, that I took that step.

When the day finally arrived I got through it with no panic- honestly none at all- well not until the floods of tears that came when I held Leya for the first time. But yes, no crying, no anxiety and most importantly NO FEAR.

I had a 48 hour labour with Leya, but only 12 of those took place at the hospital. I did most of the hard work at home. If I can get through childbirth in such a calm, relaxing way, anyone can. My mum and husband who were both present for the entire birth, said they still cant believe how I seemed to take it in my stride. Leya didn’t scream upon arrivals, she just had a quiet little cry to let us know her lungs were working fine, and she was the happiest, calmest baby imaginable.

Hypnobirthing babies are generally good sleepers and calmer, and hypnobirthing mums tend to have a natural labour (unless an unforeseen emergency arises). Go and do some research if the through of giving birth is giving you sleepless nights.

p.s No one can predict the other factors that may determine how your pregnancy and labour go, and I’m not saying Hypnobirthing is the only way forward and that it will definitely work for you, but it did WONDERS for me, and I think the more you read about other peoples experiences, you’ll find yourself intrigued about what it could do for you.

Post Natal Depression – My Experience.

‘2-3 weeks pregnant’ the test read. I looked down in horror. the lump in my throat seemed to be growing by the second and my heart was hammering. I unlocked the bathroom door, and said ‘thanks for ruining my life’. As I burst into tears, my poor husband didn’t know what to do with himself. This was not like the movies, and these were not tears of joy.

The first thoughts in my mind were, how will I get this thing out? I can’t even have a blood test without going into full blown panic, how am I going to give birth?

I visited the GP the very next day and spent the appointment crying, as she explained I would need to book my first midwife appointment. I was so anxious and angry all at the same time. For the next few weeks I felt nothing but resentment. At 7 weeks in to the pregnancy the sickness started. This was no ordinary morning sickness. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Oh the joy. I couldn’t keep a single thing down, and was sick up to ten times a day. The sickness didn’t stop until the day I gave birth, and I lost 2 stones in weight during my pregnancy.

Being sick all the time took a toll on my mood, as well as my physical health. I couldn’t identify with this thing growing inside me-it felt alien. At about 14 weeks I went to visit my GP, and told her I felt nothing for this baby. I was struggling emotionally. After speaking to me at some length, she finally said ‘I think you’ve got antenatal depression’. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I had never heard of it. No one talks about these things and no one explains that’s being pregnant might not be the wonderful, exciting experience you expect it to be.

I left the surgery feeling confused. Was I actually depressed, or was it the constant vomiting getting me down? The weeks dragged on, I did more research into HG and how it affects your mood in pregnancy, and eventually I began to accept the sickness as part of my daily routine.

At my 20 week scan, we found out that we were having a girl. That was the defining moment for me, the moment I realised that this girl was coming into our life and needed me to be the best version of myself. I owed it to her. At 26 weeks I suddenly started bleeding. I was at work, and had to rush to hospital where I was kept in overnight. I spent that night wishing with all my heart that she would be ok. I had gone from not wanting this baby, to not being able to live without her, in a matter of weeks, without having ever met her. Luckily the bleeding had stopped by the morning and she was fine. I felt my mood lift and change in the coming weeks, and once she was born the sickness completely disappeared.

However, on her day three check up, the midwife discovered that she was very jaundiced. I had been breastfeeding, and it turned out Leya hadn’t quite learnt how to latch on properly. I also wasn’t producing a great deal of milk, so those two things coupled together meant that Leya wasn’t getting enough to drink and became dehydrated. She was admitted into hospital the same day and then it was test after test, and her in a little tube having phototherapy. It broke me to see her like that, so tiny, so helpless. My husband and I slept by her side on a little pull out bed for the two nights she was there, and once we got her home she was bottle fed. Slowly, I started to get into a routine with her, and my mood lifted.

With my second pregnancy, the sickness started at six weeks. It was even worse than the first time and required hospital treatment with fluids. To add insult to injury, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Due to the sickness, it couldn’t be treated with tablets or insulin, although I had to try both to begin with- yes the needle phobic had to inject herself!

The diabetes meant constant hospital visits, and couple with the sickness, made my pregnancy a miserable one. The familiar feelings of resentment returned. I felt so alone, everyone around me was excited and happy, and I felt pressurised to feel the same way. Your body goes through so many changes, physical, hormonal, emotional, and you’re expected to push that aside and smile and be happy.

When I was on my own I would cry. I didn’t want Leya to have to share me with someone else. I didn’t want her to feel pushed out or neglected. That was my biggest fear, she was my baby, she needed me. How was I going to love something else like I loved her? Did I have that much love left? It may sound awful, but that is the reality of my thoughts at the time.

At the 20 week scan once again, the sonographer told us we were having a little girl, but this time no rush of joy for me. My husband was over the moon, but I couldn’t get past how unwell I felt.

I had to be induced at 38 weeks and the labour was complicated and terrifying (I’ll spare you the gory details). We had what is described as a ‘birth trauma’, and when I did finally hold Aria, all I did was cry and apologise to her for not wanting her. Once on the ward, I started to feel a distance between us, and it continued when we got home. I would avoid holding her, and diverted all my attention towards Leya. There were times when she would cry and it was almost as though I couldn’t hear her. It felt like a baby crying in the distance. I loved her-I knew that, but I just didn’t have the overwhelming urge to cradle her in my arms and comfort her. My midwife picked up on my feelings right away, and gave me a questionnaire to complete. I scored really high up the scale of post-natal depression. She wanted to refer me to a specialist team but I declined. ‘I’ll pull myself out of this’ I told her.

We agreed to meet in a weeks time and when she came back my score had halved. The road to recovery was long and hard. It took a while before I felt like me again.

Aria is two and a half now, and there are still days when my mind tries to take me back to the darkness of that delivery suite and the moment I almost lost her. That was the moment my subconscious mind tried to sever the bond we had, to prepare me for the possibility that she might not make it. I have to work hard to remind myself that she’s fine, she’s healthy and she’s here.

post-natal depression affects women differently and some aren’t as lucky as me, they find it impossible to come through without medication and therapy, some experience psychosis and many even harm themselves. Untreated it can lead to life-long mental health problems and it is much more common than we are led to believe. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject.

Look out for the new mums around you, look for the signs that they might not be coping. Being a new mum is exhausting and we need to be reminded and reassured that its ok and normal to feel that way. It doesn’t make you a bad mother to ask for help.

I Love BOTH my daughters with every bit of my being. My experience of post-natal depression was luckily short-lived, and I got through it with the support of those around me.

If you’re suffering, don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy Motherhood.